Delving into the mind of a NIMBY

Delving into the mind of a NIMBY
Mark BaljakSeptember 1, 2015

urban.com.au recently came across an article published on Inheritance, a blog devoted to deriding all things development. Listed under the news section, the article provides insights into how and why individuals and communities maintain a certain disdain for urban regeneration and by default higher density living.

Published earlier during 2015, here are some of the dot points taken from the article titled 20 REASONS I HATE ‘URBAN RENEWAL'

  • Urban Renewal is the reason I have to sit in traffic for 25 minutes just to get from one side of my suburb to the other. By car.
  • Urban Renewal is the reason I have to stand on the edge of the road for 10 minutes and then play chicken to get from one side to the other.
  • Urban Renewal is why I am forced to look up at overbearing nondescript cheaply constructed boxes of up to 10 stories high in suburban growth ghettos with inadequate parking, natural lighting and open space. Meanwhile affordable blocks of land and perfectly good houses are being swallowed up and kids have to make do with honing their ball skills on Sony Playstations.
  • Urban Renewal is the reason my favourite row of Federation shops has just been chewed up by bulldozers and reincarnated as some ugly monolithic drab grey box with concrete cancer and render peeling off like snakeskin after only its first full year of inception.
  • Urban Renewal is a quick way of propping up the local and state economies by giving people the false impression that it is boom time in the building industry and consumers have got way too much money to burn on housing.
  • Urban Renewal is the reason there are no more backyards in my neighbourhood. No more trees, no front yards, no side yards, no sparrows, no fairy wrens, no caterpillars, no Green Grocers, no Brown Bakers, no Black Princes, definitely no Yellow Mondays and no butterflies. There is a lot of concrete though, and concrete cancer, and the odd dwarf shrub for border embellishment.
  • Urban Renewal is the reason property developers cruise my suburb in black Audi Q7s eyeing off their next blue ribbon investment that will make them another big brown envelope full of money.
  • Urban Renewal is a sweeping term that demands blanket slash and burn mentality. Nothing is left of my old neighbourhood – no heritage, no community, no environment, no funky warehouse conversions, no links to the past, no resonating cultural vibes, nothing.
  • Urban Renewal is the reason I try and stay away from driving anywhere on weekends now. It’s just not worth the effort.
  • Urban Renewal is why I am too scared to invest all my hard earned savings into the house of my dreams, as who knows what will be built next door to the house of my dreams the minute I move in.
  • Urban Renewal is a fallacy that would have us believe the only way to make our suburbs pretty and safe is to knock everything down and build everything new again, this time with dinky shops on the bottom and multiple stories of residential dwellings on top (and lots of basement parking to store our black Audi Q7s). That way we can all be proud of our suburbs. Give me a break.
  • Urban Renewal is probably the reason why I have to put my child’s name down three years in advance to get her into some overpriced childcare facility. Same with school. It’s probably why I have to get to the train station at 5am to get the only parking available. It’s probably why I have to stand in the train too. And wait at the pharmacy, and the ATM. And get to the park three hours early to reserve a picnic table on a Saturday morning. And line up ten-deep outside the Vietnamese bread shop that does those special pork rolls I like. In fact it’s probably responsible for every little part of my life that I find shitty and annoying.

Clearly this is one small blog espousing a certain amusing, fanciful, and disturbing point of view… and of course it is their right to do so.

But is what has been published above representative of what a typical 'NIMBY' ("Not In My Back Yard") thinks to be the case regarding urban regeneration, urban renewal and higher density living? I hope not. Using Inheritance as an example, providing increased housing via differing housing typologies to cater for an increasing population is the root of the world's problems.

Surrounded by much fluff there are actually one or two salient points in the blog. One needn't look too far past Melbourne's CBD to understand that even recently heritage buildings of stature have disappeared in favour of new and shiny buildings, and unnecessarily so. The key though is finding middle ground and having appropriate heritage/design controls in place.

The above blog to my way of thinking reinforces my perception that NIMBY's are an inflexible lot incapable of seeing past their own nose: no middle ground, no understanding of the bigger picture and ultimately just concerned about their own interests!

Is the blog in question merely the rantings of a misinformed person or nailing a pertinent issue on the head. You, the reader can decide.

Lead image courtesy Inheritance.

Mark Baljak

Mark Baljak was a co-founder of Urban.com.au. He passed away on Thursday 8th of November 2018 after a battle with cancer. He was 37. Mark was a keen traveller, having visited all six permanently-inhabited continents and had a love of craft beer. One of his biggest passions was observing the change that has occurred in Melbourne over the past two decades. In that time he built an enormous library of photos, all taken by him, which tracked the progress of construction on building sites from across metropolitan Melbourne.

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